National kayaking competition: Organizers allay fears of crocodile in reservoir

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The presence of a crocodile near the Baur reservoir, where the 33rd national kayaking and canoeing competition is to be held, will not affect the event, an organizer said on Saturday, who does not wish to be named.

Recently, the Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association had also held a tryout and training camp for state team selection on July 20. A camp was also hosted by the state association from July 20 through August 3 to select the state team for the event.

The four-day competition will be held from August 22-25 at Bour Reservoir, 28 km from Rudrapur. According to the organizing committee, around 700 participants and officials from 25 states are expected to take part in the event.

On Thursday, a six-foot-long crocodile was spotted near the reservoir, stuck in the fence. Even though the forest agents rescued him and released him in the reservoir, some apprehensions were raised pointing out that the presence of the crocodiles could constitute a danger for the participants.

“We are fully prepared to organize the event as planned. The presence of aquatic creatures in and near bodies of water is common. Baur is a large reservoir and if a crocodile is spotted here it’s not a serious problem. A National Disaster Response Force team will also be there with motorboats,” the Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association, Uttarakhand Unit, Chairman Pushkar Jain said on Saturday.

Nagar U.S. District Tourism Officer PK Gautam said, “Previously, three national kayaking and canoeing competitions were held in Baur Reservoir. There is no danger, moreover, the crocodile was spotted in the Haripura reservoir which adjoins the Baur. A technical committee visited the region several times and gave the green light to organize the competition, he added.

The Uttarakhand Tourism Department is sponsoring the event and a budget of over 50 lakh has already been sanctioned for the event, an official said.

Last month, forestry officials in Khatima, in the US district of Nagar, charged some villagers with involvement in the killing of a crocodile suspected in the death of a 13-year-old boy.

In May last year, a crocodile was rescued by villagers and US Nagar forest officers. He was later released in Dhaura Dam. In September 2020, an eight-year-old girl was killed by a crocodile in Haridwar Forest Division.

In Uttarakhand, crocodiles are found in Corbett landscape, Terai region, US Nagar, some areas of Haridwar forest division and Rajaji National Park landscape.

According to the latest wildlife census released by the state forest department, the number of crocodiles has increased from 123 in 2008 to 451 in 2020.

Of the 23 species of crocodile found in the world, India has three. Uttarakhand has two of the three species: Mugger Crocodile and Gharial (in Corbett’s landscape).

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